I got to know in Dhanolti that what impact weather can have on the characteristics of a place. I visite Dhanolti twice and each time I experienced a whole new Dhanolti, so different that it was difficult to believe that it was the same place which I visited few years back. That is the beauty of Himalayas. The presence of clouds and rains will completely change the setting of a place, so different from one expeienced during sunny days. While going to Himalayas one always wants to have cloudy weather as they take shelter from scorching heat of great Indian summer of Gangetic plains and in winter one always wants to have snowfall when they visit Himalayas. Having said that one has to be very lucky also to get what he has expected. 

Beyond the Echo Park, Dhanolti
Dhanolti is well connected and there are two routes to reach Dhanolti: one is via Mussoorie and other is via Chamba. Both are in good condition and which one you choose in the end depends on your other plans too. Dhanolti is not as popular as Mussoorie or Shimla so you will not get too many high-end hotels. I always look for the guest houses of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited (GMVNL) first while in Uttarakhand because they provide good rooms at reasonable prices. But as they provide advanced booking too, many times they get filled up on weekends. I follow the first principle of travelling that never plan too much while travelling, it makes travel less enjoyable and staying to that principle we reached to Dhanolti to find GMVNL rooms all booked. We took one room in one of the hotels which provided a nice view of down-hill. 

The setting of a horror movie, Dhanolti

When I first visited Dhanolti, it was all sunny wth no sign of clouds and sky all blue. Even moon was visible on that day. We went to the Eco park in Dhanolti. There were several rides for the kids and some of us could not stop themselves and took few of them. I still remember that under a square hut we played 'Kona-Kona' in which four people occupy corners of a square, swap the corners intermittently and the fifth person tries to snatch one corner while they interchange ('Kona' means corner). Then we took stairs to go up and to our surprise it was all open, the hills as you see on the other side of the valley while moving on a hilly road. That place gave us that close view of hill and I was so close to the top a hill for the first time.

There was no sign of any settlement as far as we could see leaving few houses on slope of hills here and there. There was valley downwards and terrace farms chased the valley to the very bottom. We tried to go down in the valley but gradually size of the steps became larger and thorny bushes started piercing us. So we abandoned that plan. Seeing in the opposite of the valley, the hill looked like a giant stone placed there deliberately. We shouted something and it echoed. All these small activities made us very happy that day.

Stairway to nowhere

When I visited Dhanolti for the second time, the memories of the frst trip were still fresh in my mind. I expected to have the same view of the hill opposite the valley in Eco Park. When I reached Dhanolti it was all cloudy with some clouds passing very close to us. I was thinking is the same place that I visited few years back. The Eco Park now had beautiful flowers and these flowers sometime confuse you that how a plant can have two different type of flowers. May be they are from two different type of plants or they may different stages of same flower, we just wondered. This time all those high trees were waving with clouds and whole placed had a misty look, something which you find in horror movies. Looking upwards trees looked like embracing each other in the darkness provided by clouds. 

Between Chamba and Dhanolti
When we reached the point from where the valley was visible it was a completely different scene. Leave about seeing the hills on opposite side of valley one could not see thirty feet away. I sat there and tried to ponder over something, but it was so chilling that I could not focus on anything. Normally when I go to hill stations I don't keep warm clothes as I never felt that it was really required, but this time a got to know that one should have some arrangemnt as weather may take a whole new turn. Behind that point there was a place to sit and have candid discussions. That place also had few small elevated stages for Yoga. It was one of the best places to achieve serenity and I must admit that this place must help in concentrating while doing Yoga.

From Echo Park, Dhanolti

We continued our journey upwards. The narrow walkway was now like one shown in movies: one could not see too far, stairs with gentle slope surrounded by trees and over that every now and then a packet of mist will come in front of you from sideways. We reached to the end of the Eco Park and there was a gate there which was fortunately open. We trespassed and were now inside farm fields. And here it felt like paradise. We were literally on top of the nearby places and we were surrounded by only clouds. It was time to click few pictures but it was beyond the capacity of any camera t capture those moments, those clouds and the sheer bliss which one feels in such a settings. Even wild flowers there were so happy that they refused to come to standstill so that we can have a picture with them. There were few houses in fields and we thought that such a house was all that we wanted then.

Never before I experienced such bliss leaving the first experience of snowfall in Deoria Tal. We could not stay there too long as we were shivering and temperature was dipping further. We had to descend. The small town of Dhanolti sleeps early and there is not much which you can do apart from taking walk on empty streets. But who knows few walks can easily become a walk to remember. Next day We left for Surkanda Devi temple in Kaddukhal but I will always miss such a weather in my trips to any hill station. 

इसी ज़मीं पर जीना इसी पर खाक होना
इंसान को कहाँ मयस्सर है आज़ाद होना

पंख फैलाकर हवा में कहीं बेसुध उड़ जाना
दुश्वार है यहाँ ये इक सपना साकार होना

तरह तरह के पहरे हैं रूह पर कि दिन में
खुश एक बार होना ग़मज़दा बार बार होना

ख्वाब में जियो या हक़ीक़त में किसे मालूम
इतनी बड़ी बात नहीं है तेरा होना या ना होना

लाख गुल हों चमन में तो भी वो रौनक कहाँ
भँवरा ना आए तो क्या फस्ल-ए-बहार होना

देखकर किसी का दर्द क्यों मुँह फेरता है तू
इतना मुश्किल हो गया क्या ग़म-गुसार होना

ना अपनी मर्ज़ी से आए और ना ही जाना है
जिंदगी कहने को खुद की कहाँ अधिकार होना *

दूर के सफ़र में थक कर जब चूर हो जाना
तब तुम इन दरख्तों का शुक्रगुज़ार होना

सफ़र ही जब मंज़िल हो यायावर की तो कहिए
क्या इन्तहा है क्या आर होना क्या पार होना ।

* इस बात पर शायर ज़ौक़ का एक शेर याद आता है :
लाई हयात आए, कज़ा ले चली चले,
अपनी खुशी से आए ना अपनी खुशी चले

मयस्सर - feasible; फस्ल-ए-बहार - spring season; ग़म-गुसार - one who consoles; दरख्त - tree; हयात - life, existence; कज़ा - destiny, death

आपने उस भजन की ये दो पंक्तियाँ सुनी होंगी कि 'जलाओ दिये पर रहे ध्यान इतना, अंधेरा धरा पर कहीं रह ना जाए।' अब धरा की बात तो छोड़ दीजिए चिराग तले ही अंधेरा होता है। कभी आपने सोचा है कि चिराग तले अंधेरा क्यों होता है? दिया जलने से पहले और उसके बुझने के बाद भी अगर कोई चीज़ स्थाई रहती है तो वो है अंधेरा। तो फिर दिया जलाते ही क्यों हैं? दिया इसलिए जलाया जाता है कि भले ही अंधेरा ताकतवर हो, स्थाई हो लेकिन उस से लड़ना तो होगा ही। और हमेशा लड़ते रहना होगा क्योंकि अंधेरे को कुछ क्षणों के लिए पराजित तो किया जा सकता है लेकिन उसका जड़ से उन्मूलन नहीं किया जा सकता। हम दिया जलाकर अपने इस निश्चय के प्रति प्रतिबद्धता जताते हैं कि हम अंधेरे से लड़ते ही रहेंगे। 

तामसिक और सात्विक प्रवृत्तियों की इस लड़ाई में तामसिक प्रवृत्तियों का पलड़ा भारी है ऐसा कहने वाला मैं अकेला नहीं हूँ। आपने हजारी प्रसाद द्विवेदी जी की कालजयी रचना 'नाख़ून क्यों बढ़ते हैं' अवश्य पढ़ी होगी। अगर नही पढ़ी है तो पढ़िएगा। इसमें द्विवेदी जी से एक छोटी बच्ची पूंछ बैठती है कि नाख़ून क्यों बढ़ते हैं। द्विवेदी जी इस सवाल पर बहुत सोचते हैं और अंत में इस निष्कर्ष पर पहुँचते हैं कि नाख़ून पाशविक प्रवृत्तियों का प्रतीक हैं और मनुष्य को हमेशा याद दिलाते हैं कि पहले वो पशु था। मनुष्य नाख़ून को काटकर इस तथ्य को झुठलाने की कोशिश करता है लेकिन नाख़ून दोबारा बढ़ आते हैं। और इस द्वंद में मनुष्य को हमेशा लड़ते रहना होगा। वो कभी भी पाशविक प्रवृत्तियों को हावी नहीं होने दे सकता और ना ही कभी यह मानकर बैठ सकता है कि पाशविक प्रवृत्तियाँ समाप्त हो गई हैं।

मैं और उदाहरण देता हूँ। हम हर वर्ष विजयादशमी पर बुराई रूपी रावण पर अच्छाई रूपी राम की जीत का उत्सव मनाते हैं। हम दीपावली पर दिये जलाकर अंधकार पर प्रकाश की जीत की खुशियाँ मनाते हैं। लेकिन हर वर्ष क्यों? हम यह मानकर बैठ क्यों नहीं जाते कि अच्छाई सदा के लिए जीत गई है या प्रकाश हमेशा के लिए अंधकार पर हावी हो गया है। क्योंकि हम यह जानते हैं कि यह जीत, यह उल्लास क्षणिक है। क्योंकि हम यह जानते हैं कि तम ही टिकाऊ है। और इसको झुठलाने के लिए हम बार बार लड़ते रहते हैं। आपने देखा होगा, सुना होगा कि संत महात्मा लोगों को सही राह पर चलने का उपदेश दिया करते हैं। और ऐसा वो सदियों से करते आ रहे हैं। मनुष्य को सही राह पर लाने में हज़ारों वर्ष लग गये और अब भी यह नहीं माना जा सकता कि वह सही राह पर आ गया है क्योंकि उनका उपदेश अब भी जारी है। तो महापुरुष हमेशा प्रयत्नशील रहे हैं कि मनुष्य दुर्व्यसनों को छोड़कर सदाचारी जीवन व्यतीत करे लेकिन तामसिक प्रवृत्तियाँ रह रह के हावी हो जाती हैं। अगर यहाँ पर विज्ञान को ले आया जाए तो यह स्वाभाविक हो जाएगा कि कोई भी वस्तु हमेशा उच्च क्षमता से निम्न क्षमता की ओर ही बहती है और निम्न क्षमता से उच्च क्षमता से जाने के लिए कार्य करना पड़ता है। 

अब सवाल यह उठता है कि तामसिक प्रवृत्तियाँ स्थाई क्यों होती हैं और सात्विक प्रवृत्तियाँ क्षणभन्गुर क्यों। इसका जवाब है प्रयत्न। कभी भी यथास्थिति को बदलने के लिए प्रयत्न करना पड़ता है और प्रकृति के हर तत्व का गुण होता है यथास्थिति बनाए रखना अर्थात प्रयत्न ना करना। अंधेरे को चीरने के लिए लौ को प्रयत्न करना ही पड़ता है। उर्जा भी चाहिए होती है। अगर आप डार्विनवाद को मानते हैं तो आप भी मानेंगे कि अगर मनुष्य में जिजीविषा ना होती तो मनुष्य भी इतिहास में कहीं अदृश्य हो गया होता या आज भी बंदर होता लेकिन मनुष्य ने विकास के लिए प्रयत्न किया। और जब यही प्रयत्न बंद हो जाता है तो मनुष्य तामसिक गुणों का शिकार हो जाता है क्योंकि उसके लिए किसी प्रयत्न की आवश्यकता नहीं पड़ती। 

लेकिन प्रयत्न किया ही क्यों जाए? जवाब है आनंद की अनुभूति। सोच के देखिए कोलम्बस को नयी दुनिया खोज कर कितना आनंद आया होगा या चाँद पर पहला कदम रखते हुए नील आर्मस्ट्रॉंग को कितनी खुशी हुई होगी। न्यूटन ने सेब गिरते हुए देखकर गुरुत्वाकर्षण के सिद्धांत की ही खोज कर दी। चाहते तो वो भी मनुष्य के पूर्वज बंदरों की भाँति सेब खाकर बगीचे में आराम फरमाते रहते। विश्वास कीजिएगा तामसिक प्रवृत्तियों मे क्षणिक आनंद आ सकता है पर सात्विक तरीके से पाया हुआ कुछ भी अत्यधिक आनंददायी होता है। मैं यह मानने के लिए तैयार हूँ कि उसे पाना थोड़ा मुश्किल हो सकता है। 

और जब बात जलने की होती है तो मुझे अपने एक शिक्षक की बात याद आ जाती है जो कि उन्होंने हम लोगों से लगभग एक दशक पहले कही थी कि अंतिम विजय ही विजय होती है। मैं उनकी पंक्तियों को ही उद्धृत कर देता हूँ, “एक बात हमेशा याद रखना कि जलते दोनों हैं। जलते दोनों हैं मगर एक जल कर बुझता है और एक बुझकर जलता है। लेकिन दुनिया उसे ही याद रखती है जो बुझकर जलता है।”

“Our freedom of choice in a competitive society rests on the fact that, if one person refuses to satisfy our wishes, we can turn to another. But if we face a monopolist we are at his absolute mercy. And an authority directing the whole economic system of the country would be the most powerful monopolist conceivable…it would have complete power to decide what we are to be given and on what terms. It would not only decide what commodities and services were to be available and in what quantities; it would be able to direct their distributions between persons to any degree it liked.” 
Nobel Laureate and a popular face of Austrian School of Economics, Friedrich A. Hayek's Legendary work 'Road to Serfdom' was a monumental piece against the socialist and communist movements of the world and against the growing government control over the business, big and small. This book is a strong critic of collectivist thought, but we have to see it in the light of the time when it was written. The book was written post World War 2 when the world has seen the dictatorial National-Socialist regime of Germany under Hitler or communist rule in USSR under Stalin. Hayek, a classic liberalist, to be distinguished from those who believe that democracy can survive in full-fledged socialist state, warned the world of the dangers of excessive, and in some cases absolute, government control. He was praised by later day successful free-market champion governments which brought sweeping reforms like that of Margaret Thatcher. Hayek lived long enough to see his theory turning true in some countries and some other taking corrective steps.

 'Road to Serfdom' by Friedrich A. Hayek
In initial few chapters of the book Hayek argues against economic planning, till then existing in the form of Five Years Plans of Soviet rule and many other states pitching for central planning. Hayek's opposition to centralised planning was based on two reasons. First, that the centralised planning is too big a task to be executed efficiently by any authority. Any authority cannot decide for all sectors of industry keeping in mind the welfare of all sectors. It is bound to promote interests of a group or industry and in the process neglecting all others. Thus effectively driving out entrepreneurship culture from the state because people will have to follow what planning authority have decided for them instead of acting as per the requirements of market. The second point that Hayek raises against planning is that it creates too powerful a structure against which public can hardly go. This is logical also because the whatever planning authority has decided is to be implemented and if someone does not accepts the decision taken for him, then force has to be used. This force is what leads to totalitarian regimes.

The biggest challenge that a socialist or communist state puts before an individual, in words of Hayek, is freedom or liberty. To quote Hayek himself,
”Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”
He cites example of right to acquire land which was not given in communist regime of USSR. Hayek says that in that case an individual is always at the mercy of state. There is no incentive to work. Also in a collectivist rule a person cannot choose his field of interest as his way of livelihood earning. Hayek says that although the chances of a very poor becoming a very rich person in a free market economy is very less but that there is a chance is no mean achievement in itself. In a collectivist state only those favoured by people higher up in administration and hand-picked by them can become part of influential class. 

Hayek also argues against notion of security that a collectivist state is thought to offer. Consider a case where a person has acquired a skill by hard work over the years and then a scientific innovation leaves his skill redundant or a natural calamity roots out an already set up business or industry. Although humanitarian side says that government should come to rescue of the concerned individuals but Hayek advises against that. He says that job security provided to an individual is a loss for others. For another person whose skill was rendered unrequired after an innovation and who now masters a new art for living is inherently at loss and that too because he adjusted to changed scenario. He also says that a situation of complete job security does not let an individual to give his best and hampers innovation. 

In one of the chapters, it is discussed how dictators rise from the society. Hayek says that initially that leader has a small following who see their benefit in the rise of that leader. But with this set of followers, the leader cannot rise to the top, so they require an issue to get mass following. Most of the time this issue is emotional one like humiliating defeat of Germany in First World War and consequent signing of pacts which added to humiliation was used by Hitler to further National-Socialist rule in Germany. When the leader has mass following and acquires authority, he will enact laws and create authorities to curtail individual freedom necessary for his unchallenged rule and survival of regime becomes the most important task of leader who by now has become dictator because he cannot tolerate a single voice of dissent. 

Many issues raised in this book may seem trivial because world has moved since then and most of the communist and socialist regimes have fallen since this book was written and at many points this book becomes monotonous but we have to keep in mind that this book was written in 1945 when the danger of collectivist takeover of the economies was real. Hayek also emphasized the role of government in ensuring competition in market, like government have to check predatory marketing, and also ensuring that competition does not affects the sustainability of ecosystem. What hayek could not see was that whenever a power authority is created, it will curtail individual freedom irrespective of whether that authority was created by cronyism or collectivism. 

When a seasoned politician writes his autobiography, it is like a treasure trove. If he is writing it well before assuming a highly significant office, then he does not have to worry about the fallouts of his writings. Example can be given of the Barak Obama's autobiography, which he wrote in early 1990s. When a politician writes an autobiography before retirement or when he is still in a race for a high office, then most of the time he is trying to make an statement. His writings are more concerned with image creation and also rectifying or diluting the effects of the mistakes committed in past.

Advani's autobiography My Country My Life, falls in second category. He may choose to speak in detail on few topics and avoid others, still it gives an account of his close encounter with events which changed the course of Indian politics. Lal Krishna Advani was Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister during Vajpayee government. He was also the president of a national political party of India.

The book is divided in five parts. Advani was born in Karachi city of Sindh in undivided India. The pain of partition runs deep through the community which was rendered homeless and has to cross border to make new homes, as evident from Advani's account of the prevailing conditions of partition period. He devotes first phase of the book to his upbringing in Karachi and how his family migrated to Kutch district in Gujarat. In the second phase he describes his stint as Pracharak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Rajasthan state. He came closer to politician like Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya and also Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Later on he would become friends and colleague with Vajpayee, a relation which is alive even today surviving more than six decades.

'My Country My Life' by LK Advani
In the third part, Advani describes the situation during Nehru's and Indira's India till emergency (1975-77) and his role in it. He migrated to delhi and started working as a journalist for The Organiser. He was elected to Delhi Metropolitan Council and became the speaker of the house. Later on he entered Rajya Sabha to began his long Parliamentary Career. He was chosen to lead Bharatiya Jana Sangh (the predecessor of Bharatiya Janta Party, BJP) which made him rise to prominence in national politics. The fourth part describes the years as the President of BJP, when he spearheaded the Mandir Movement. These were the years which redefined the Indian politics. Strength of BJP rose manyfold and it formed its own government at Centre and he became Home Minister, the stint which he describes in the fourth part.

His tenure as the Home Minister was a very happening one. He talks in detail about the Naxalite challenge, the separatist movement in North-East India, cross border terrorism in Kashmir, the failure of Vajpayee-Musharraf Summit in Agra and the setting up of a committee to review the working of the Indian Constitution. He makes efforts to explain the events of Gujarat riots and gives incidents of his efforts as Home Minister. During a visit to pakistan he praised Jinnah which was not well received in India. He also explains his position regarding Zinnah giving historical instances.

Overall the book is easy to read written in a storytelling style. For those interested in political history, this will be a knowledge gaining read. But to read views of only one side is not recommended. One should read counter views too before forming an opinion an issue, more so on political issues. Also read this book for a life account of a refugee who left his home and then gradually rose to hold one of the high offices of the Central Government.